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What Constitutes an

What Constitutes an "Unsafe Work Environment" Under California Workers' Compensation Law?

If you were involved in a work-related accident that resulted in an injury, you are probably considering trying to seek financial compensation. How can you be sure that the accident can be proven as your employer's responsibility and not your own? It is in the best interest of your employer or its parent company to deny any involvement with the accident and try to pin it on your own recklessness, negligence, or fraudulent intent. As they will have labor law attorneys ready to contest your claim, you should ensure that you are prepared by taking the following two steps:

  • Retain an experienced workers' compensation lawyer of your own
  • Research state and federal laws related to your occupation

What is an unsafe work environment?

Dangers in the workplace may be apparent, but they might not be defined as part of an unsafe work environment. For example, using a forklift to transport heavy pallets from one end of a warehouse to the other has obvious and inherit danger, but it is not necessarily unsafe. So long as precautions are taken and training is done accordingly, dangerous tasks may be considered acceptably safe.

So what is an unsafe work environment? Typically, you must prove that there was an "imminent danger" to you or those around you due to negligence or mishandling of equipment and procedures, or that you had reasonable cause to suspect imminent danger could be present. In the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 §13(a) 29 USC 662 – an act that has cascaded into state legislature, including the California Workers' Compensation Law – imminent danger can have multiple definitions and may cause numerous consequences, such as:

  • Serious physical harm: If damage leads to part of the body losing all or partial functionality, it may indicate that imminent danger was present and ignored, or at least unnoticed.
  • Lingering harm: Exposure to hazardous or toxic substances may cause a reduction to one's lifespan, or a decrease in general physical or mental capacity. Mishandling of such substances can cause damage that is not immediately noticeable and instead occurs years later, such as asbestos poisoning.

It should also be noted that if you are denied access to your workplace's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), or if there is no MSDS available at your workplace, this may be taken as reason to suspect imminent danger. If you don't understand the substances you are told to work with, how can you be considered safe?

You Have the Right to be Safe as a Worker in California!

Under both the Workers' Compensation Law and the OSH Act of 1970, your right to be safe while at work is both defined and protected. Violations to your safety should be reported to OSHA as soon as they are discovered – and your employer cannot legally react negatively.

If you have been reprimanded or punished for reporting an unsafe work condition, or if you have been injured due to unsafe work environments, in Oakland, California, you may be owed financial compensation. Without a professional workers' compensation attorney at your side, you may not be granted any punitive damages and could be paying for expensive and lengthy medical bills.

Don't let your employer push you around! Fight back with the Law Office of Jonathan M. Brand. We take pride in our passion for defending workers' rights and won't rest until you get the reasonable settlement you deserve. Don't lose another day and contact us now to start building your case.


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